Friday, November 11, 2016

Strangers in their own land

Here I am again, everyone!  My country needs me.

I kid.  Kind of.  But not really.  I mean, my country doesn't need me, specifically, but it certainly needs people willing to cross some scary bridges.  There are so many scary bridges.

So.  Hi, again!  Let's get right to it.

In the midst of the US election campaign, and in the spirit of my ongoing search for empathy this year, I decided to read Strangers in Their Own Land, by Arlie Russell Hochschild.  It is about, as the title says, "anger and mourning on the American right."  I first heard about the book in the New York Times, which gave it a very positive review and championed Hochschild's empathy for people who stand on the other side of the political divide than she does.

Hochschild, a sociologist known for her book The Second Shift about working moms in America, really does strive to "scale the empathy wall."  (In fact, she uses the phrase "scale the empathy wall" a LOT.  More on her language later.)  She is a left-leaning academic from Berkeley, but she's also a sociologist whose focus is on how emotions can shape our lives and beliefs.  So she's perfect for this task!  She's also white, which I suspect helped a lot, though she did not talk about this element of privilege directly.  It can be difficult to talk about race frankly and openly and inoffensively.

I read Strangers in Their Own Land because, like many "liberal elites" (a phrase that seems to have been coined in the past 72 hours), I rarely come into contact with rural Americans, let alone Tea Partiers.  I have many stereotypes and preconceived notions about them (those on the far right), which are just as unfair as any stereotypes and preconceived notions they may have about me.  This book was my first step in trying to understand them, their values, and their opinions just a little bit better.  I can't say that I feel fully enlightened now, but I do understand why they feel so abandoned and how that drives their choices.

Hochschild really wanted to get to the heart of what drives Americans on the far right to, in many people's minds, vote directly against their own interests.  They vote for less government support even as they depend on Medicaid and unemployment; they vote for less regulation even as they see the horrible effects of unbridled pollution around them; they vote for big business even as it abandons them.  What she finds is that they are driven by many real, concrete things that the rest of us have trouble understanding.  First, they have a deep and abiding and very concrete connection to God.  Even though this world may be polluted, Heaven will not be.  And Heaven is where they spend eternity.  Second, they really need jobs.  Any jobs.  Otherwise, their homes and their friends and their livelihoods will disappear.  You need to prioritize things, and jobs are prioritized over everything else.  Third, they value sacrifice.  Sometimes you need to sacrifice things that are important to you (like women's health and environmental safety) for things that are more important to you (like jobs and a comfortable home).  Also, they really love this analogy of "waiting in line."  They have waited in line for a really long time, and other people keep cutting in front of them.  Maybe those people have worked hard, and maybe they are good people.  But that doesn't mean they deserve to cut.

It was very difficult for me to read this book.  Not because I don't think the values above are important.  I do think they are important.  I understand that our culture values work and job titles over almost everything else.  It is embarrassing to not have a job and a title that reflects who you are and how smart you are and how hard you work.  I also understand prioritization.  And while I am not religious myself, I respect that people have a right to worship as they choose.

My main issue is that nothing in this book made me believe that Tea Partiers would extend the same courtesy to me.  I have difficulty extending empathy towards people that I don't believe would treat me and my beliefs with empathy.  For example, I believe very strongly in a woman's right to choose.  People in this book are very religious and usually very pro-life.  Therefore, they want to limit everyone's access to abortion, in line with their religious morals, regardless of the fact that it is not in line with my religious morals.  In contrast, they believe very strongly in the right to bear arms.  (The Bible tells you not to kill other people, but this does not come up.)  They get very upset by the possibility that people would take away their right to own guns.  But the connection between their right to bear arms and a woman's right to choose whether or not to bear a child... well, let's just say they don't see this connection.  They want less regulation over some things but are totally fine with regulation over others.

As Hochshild points out,
"the Great Paradox becomes more complicated... Liquor, guns, motorcycle helmets - mainly white masculine pursuits - are fairly unregulated. But for women and black men, regulation is greater...while the state boasts a reputation of an almost cowboy-style "don't-fence-me-in" freedom, that is probably not how a female rape victim who wants an abortion, or a young black boy in Jefferson Davis Parish see the matter."
It's these inconsistencies that I really wanted Hochschild to hone in on and explain to me (HELP ME UNDERSTAND, ARLIE).  But I felt like she just noted them and moved on.  She did not push anyone to justify this paradox, probably because her goal was "scaling the empathy wall," not changing anyone's mind.  I understand prioritizing some things more than others (such as jobs over the environment, I suppose).  But what about this stance on less regulation, except when it comes to women and minorities?

 Speaking of "scaling the empathy wall," this was somewhat more difficult for me to do because of the language Hochshild used.  There was a lot of jargon in this book.  "Scaling the empathy wall" was one phrase that was used [too] often.  As was "deep story," an articulation of another person's worldview that shows how emotions play into values.  The Tea Partier's "deep story" is that other people are cutting in line and getting ahead while he waits patiently for his turn.

But the thing is that Tea Partiers are not waiting patiently for their turn.  There is so much that is inherently sexist and racist in the whole idea of "waiting in line" that I don't even know where to begin with my objections.  But here's a sample.  Why were people like you the only people allowed in the line for so long?  What makes you think that you work harder than anyone else?  Why does my joining the line somehow imply that your wait has now become longer?  Why do you assume that everyone is in the same line?  Why are you willing to give people who look and talk like you the benefit of the doubt but you assume everyone else is trying to cheat the system?  Why are you willing to donate to your local soup kitchen but you think people abuse food stamps?

I understand that jobs are leaving rural areas, that communities are drying up, that drugs are coming in to fill the void, and that the path to education and forward momentum seems stagnant.  All of these are very real issues and I absolutely understand voting for your interests.  I think Hochschild did a really good job of showing this and how little choice and agency people have over their lives.

Where I think Hochschild fell short is that she doesn't make the connection between this prioritization and how this leads people to value their own way of life and their own privilege over other people and against everything that science and data and fact say are true.  She mentions right-wing news like FOX and talk radio only as it pertains to how people receive their information, not about how it directly impacts their worldview.  Maybe this is too much to ask from a book, but I think Hochschild focused a lot on giving us a window into the life of a Tea Partier and why we should have empathy for them, but she doesn't make many overtures to convince them to have empathy for the rest of us and our worldview.  And again, maybe this is expecting too much, but she also doesn't present readers with any ideas on how to bridge this gaping divide between us.  So while I think this really was a very enlightening and sobering book, particularly about the horrific policy decisions made by Bobby Jindal, I wanted much more from it.  I'll have to keep reading.  Based on the results of this past election, I feel certain that there will be many articles and books written about this soon.  If you know of any that I have not listed below, please share!

Are you interested in learning more about this topic?  

Here are some other books I have on hold but not read yet:
Hillbilly Elegy:  A Memoir of Family and Culture in Crisis, by JD Vance
The Unwinding:  An Inner History of the New America, by George Packer
What's the Matter with Kansas?:  How Conservatives Won the Heart of America, by Thomas Frank

And some articles that I did read and found very informative:
How Half of America Lost Its F**king Mind
Trump Won Because College-Educated Americans are Out of Touch
I'm a Coastal Elite From the Midwest:  The Real Bubble is Rural America

And this podcast series that is excellent:
The United States of Anxiety


  1. Glad to see you blogging again!

  2. There's a book that was written about this years ago called What's the Matter with Kansas that sorta deals with this, too. I get a bit upset when 'rural' is used disparagingly these days. I live in a rural area in a small state that in the primary overwhelmingly voted for Bernie and Trump.

    1. That's a good point, I should switch "rural" to "Tea Partiers" because they are not the same thing and she was focused specifically on people on the far right.

      That said, I feel like probably people on the other side of the debate talk pretty disparagingly about "coastal/liberal elites" so it is possible that people always talk badly about those that experience life differently than they do.

      I'll add What's the Matter with Kansas onto my list of suggested reads, too - thank you, Nan!

    2. I am one of those 'coastal/liberals' even though in a rural area. Maybe none of the labels work anymore. Just read an interesting piece in The Guardian. You might be interested:

    3. Thank you, I did see a link to that one. I think there are a lot of valid points there. It's not that I think the Democrats are perfect, it's just that at least they didn't win (or lose, I guess) on a platform of hatred and misogyny.

  3. It's certainly true that empathy has to go both ways for it to make a difference. But I also think that many conservative communities only remain so because they remain in the past, a past where a certain industry was active, a past where other people could be disparaged and insulted, a past where women were second class citizens. Progressive communities have done just that, progressed, and shouldn't be made to step backwards to accommodate those who refuse to move forward. These communities certainly shouldn't ignore the ones that are behind though. We need to send good teachers and quality companies into these places the same way we used to actively send doctors. Without education and new industries, there just won't be any change.

    1. Yes, I agree. I think education is pretty key. However, they also seem to want to disband the Department of Education, so...

    2. Yeah. How the Republican party became the anti-education/anti-science and technology party, I'll never quite understand. How can you be the party of affluence and also those things?

  4. Anonymous11/12/2016

    I am so glad to see you blogging again!

  5. I saw your comment on Twitter about how this week make you want to blog and it resonated with me - I thought that blogging might help me process my feelings (it did!) and be a silver lining after this week.

    I admire you for reading this book. I spent my first 25 years subscribing to the worldview that Hochschild presents. My beliefs have shifted since (thanks grad school, thanks reading widely, thanks reading diversely!). I agree with you that there's really no attempt on the right side of the equation to reach out and understand, and I don't think there will be... I also am skeptical of what good one-sided empathy can do. BUT. Books and talking about them do good. People can change. And you are doing your part, so you really are changing the world!

    1. Thank you, Cecelia! It is heartening to know that people can change their minds, and that you changed yours. I agree, you never know when it is the right moment and the right person and the right message. I am glad that blogging helped you process your feelings, too. It certainly helped me.

  6. The timing on this book couldn't be better. It has really been a tough week and I, like you, struggle to understand why people vote against what could help them most. I do think religion and the issue of a woman's right to choose tends to trump (pun intended) everything else. It also feels good to read blogs written by like-minded people so for that, thank you. I am lucky to live in southern California, a liberal bubble, where I can feel sheltered from most of the "ick."

    1. I think what bothers me is all the people who say that they voted for economic reasons or change to "shake things up." If this is true (and maybe it is), then I hope they are out there shouting just as loudly for the civil liberties that the rest of us are so frightened of losing.

  7. Point of order, not to be mushy, but your country absolutely does need you specifically, lovely friend. I AM DOING THE UNCLE SAM FINGER RIGHT NOW.

    (hm that sounds gross, doesn't it?)

    Your point about tea partiers being unwilling to extend understanding and empathy to you is exactly my problem with all these calls for empathy. Over the last eight years, the right has shown virtually no interest in working with the Democratic leadership and finding compromises, and I'm having a hard time finding any reason why I should now compromise with them. Because what it feels like to me, all these calls on the right for compromise, it feels like "please tell us this choice we made isn't that bad." And I am so not here for that. The choice they made was bad, and I'm not going to have any part in pretending that it was anything other than that.

    1. I agree. It's a lot of backtracking and "Hey, I'm not racist/sexist/isolationist, give me a break!" And it's like - NO. I will NOT give you a break. You better be out there fighting for all these rights you decided were not as important to you as your right to have a gun.

  8. Yes, yes, what Jenny said. I recognize that it's important for those of us on the left to be attentive and thoughtful about the problems of people in rural and predominately conservative areas, and I think books like this, that involve going there and listening, are important. But, having grown up in an area where there are now lots of tea party types and second-amendment worshipers, I see little interest from them in listening to more urban and liberal points of view. They just write us off as "elites" when a whole other set of elites have used Fox news, talk radio, and the like to feed them lots of innuendo and often outright lies about those on the left. Some of the people I grew up with are generally lovely people and wouldn't even think of committing an overtly racist act, but they buy into a lot of racism-fueled ideas without ever thinking it through. I blame right-wing media for a lot of it. I just can't see a good way out of it, and that makes me angry and sad and soooo frustrated.

    1. I 100% agree. I think there are a lot of people making a lot of money on hate. And now they are in the White House, so. That makes me feel grand.

  9. Aarti, I am so glad to read your words again.

    And this review is timely. Also, such a difficult book to read I imagine. The book has received quite some coverage here as well and while it has made me curious I have also been reluctant to pick it up and I think that what you single out here, as well as what Jenny and Teresa said in their comments, is the reason why. While I do think that more division in a country is not necessarily the way forward, I can't see why one side has to be called upon for empathy. And if the other 'side' doesn't, then where does that leave us but to all skewed more towards the right?

    1. Oh, Iris, I've missed you, too!

      Yes, this was a very difficult book to read. It made me so sad. I realize that integration and diversity and equality is really hard because it implies that some people have to take a cut so that other people can get a leg up. But I didn't realize just how utterly exhausting it can be when people are SO AGAINST it but also are SO AGAINST being called sexist or racist. I think a lot of what I have found (and will come out more in my next review) over the past few years is that it is impossible to talk about race in America without somehow coming back to whiteness and this coddling of whites to make sure they don't think that everyone else thinks they are racist. And it just completely stops the conversation and makes it so hard and then we don't make any progress.

      I agree with you on the empathy. I don't see anyone on the right calling for empathy towards others, even though it's very clear the popular vote went the other way.

  10. Anonymous11/14/2016

    The media and liberals continue to refer to the Tea Party as extreme and out of touch with the American public. Last week's election results are clear evidence that the opposite is true.

    Large segments of the media, Hollywood, and other liberal groups think Obama has been a centrist, even though he supports universal health care, taxing enough life out of our businesses and the middle class, subsidizing green energy schemes that cost a fortune and make no economic sense (and apparently don't apply to the biggest complainers who fly everywhere in their private jets) -- it goes on and on. Perhaps the fact that Obama has deported more illegal immigrants than any other president makes them think he's centrist? Regardless, given their viewpoint, it's no wonder they think the Tea Party is extreme.

    Apparently it's pointless to try to convince a liberal that reality isn't all rainbows and unicorns where all you have to do is wish and it will come true. Regulation of people and businesses has consequences. Although the Tea Party is not an official organization, it appears that their primary beliefs are limited federal government, individual freedoms, personal responsibility, and free markets. Most tea partiers were also pro-choice and pro-gay marriage until the religious fanatics tried to take it over. So how is it the Tea Party is labeled extremist when, on virtually all their important issues, the evidence is clear that most Americans are in substantial agreement with it? Clearly, the American public has been mislead by the media and by the propensity of liberal politicians who customarily preach the left-wing viewpoint to hurl charges of racism or other divisive words at anyone who does not agree with them, all while telling us how tolerant they are.

    No, the Tea Party is not extreme. It is merely the "Silent Majority" no longer being silent. And now is a wonderful opportunity for the left to learn a lesson: You can continue to hand over more and more power to the federal government because you hate the idea of people making decisions for themselves, but when the candidate you hate gets elected, that person all of a sudden has all of that power.

    Sucks, doesn't it.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Thank you for commenting, I know it can be hard to write a comment when all the commenters are from the other side. I'm sad you didn't feel safe enough to put your name to your comment, and I never really know if people come back to check for responses to their comments, but nonetheless, I'll respond. I do really appreciate you coming and participating in conversation. As someone who is further right than I am, do you see people on the right trying to understand the other half of the country? As you can probably tell from the comments, that's what many people feel the most hopeless about.

      I would not say that last week's election results are "clear evidence that the opposite is true." Certainly the Tea Party is not out of touch with ALL Americans, but it's out of touch with *many* of them. Half the country didn't vote, and the majority of people who did, did not vote for Trump. Setting aside the sad reality that half of America doesn't even make the effort to vote (or is discouraged from voting), the Republicans certainly won Congress. You're right that clearly, people are upset about many things and want a change. Whether the Republican party and Donald Trump can deliver on remedying what frightens so many Americans is less clear.

      I don't see where you draw the connection between the Tea Party and most Americans being in "substantial agreement with it." I 100% disagree with this statement. I know zero people who are in substantial agreement with the Tea Party, and while I clearly don't know many people on the other side of the political sphere, I don't think your statement is correct.

      I don't think liberals think that reality is all rainbows and unicorns, either. In fact, I would say my belief is very much exactly the opposite, which is why I want so badly for us to have structures in place to help people when they need help. There are many people who work really hard and continue to be pushed back down. I think we should help them. There are many people who come to the US looking for a better life. I think we can deliver on the promise of one. I agree, that requires a bigger government that some people are comfortable with having, which is a very fair and important discussion for the country to have.

      This line of thinking also requires trust in government. The federal government over the past decade or more has not done a lot to inspire trust. I would argue that this is due just as much to the Republican Party and the Tea Party as it is to the Democrats. I also agree that it is troubling how much power Trump will have, a lot of it due to the way Obama expanded the executive branch's power.

      However, I honestly don't understand how Donald Trump inspires trust. If you don't trust your government, fine. But you trust him? Why? He is the worst.

      Charges of racism and sexism are being "hurled" because people are genuinely frightened. Whatever you may think about the Tea Party being taken over by religious fanatics, the fact is that the Tea Party WAS taken over by people who believe very strongly in things that I find terrifying. If you are pro-choice and pro-LGBTQ rights, then I expect you to fight for people to keep those options over the next four years. Stand by this statement. If you voted for Trump for economic reasons, then please fight him on the social ones.

      Also, please fight him on the racists that he is appointing to the White House staff.

  11. I admire your ability to finish this book. I don't know if I could have done so. Not that it isn't a well written book, but I would have found it incredibly frustrating.

    I am also glad to see you blogging again.

    1. I am not sure if I could have read it post-election. I am glad I read it beforehand. But it's still frustrating. It's sad, too. A lot of people feel like they have no options, and I can't even begin to imagine the hopelessness that comes with the situations like that. Many people have been lied to by both their employers and the government, taken advantage of on so many levels. So in a way, a lot of it is just like a big "F**k you" because no one really carries through.

  12. Anonymous11/15/2016

    This is the previous anonymous poster again. Thank you for your response. I don't think it's a matter of people on the right trying to understand the other half of the country – most all we ever hear are liberal messages, and understand them well. It's in the movies we see, the television shows we watch, the books we read, the news we hear, and most importantly, in the discussions that we have with friends and family every day. But people assume that they will be judged as racists or as being heartless when they say that they don't believe that Latinos or African Americans or Native Americans or women need extra rights as protected classes, because they are all just as smart and just as ambitious as white people. The liberal messages and policies for years have said that these people can't do it on their own, and so they continue to keep them down generation after generation. The current administration has gone even further, and race baits every chance it gets in order to keep this country divided.

    With regard to my comment about evidence that most Americans agree with the Tea Party's values, I was not saying that they would stand tall with Tea Partiers, but rather that they believe in the values themselves: limited federal government, individual freedoms, personal responsibility, and free markets. Many people who call themselves liberal agree with these values, but then they often support policies that go against these values because they don't understand how passing laws that seem like they should be helpful actually cause harm. Minimum wage laws sound great, but when a struggling business then has to cut hours and not hire people because they simply can't afford it, intruding on free markets is not the answer. If a pharmacy chooses not to carry birth control because its owners think it is immoral, then we should boycott the pharmacy, and work on public awareness rather than forcing a private business owner to do things that he or she does not believe in.

    Trump certainly wasn't a fabulous candidate, and nobody is expecting him to be a wonderful president, but I think people thought he would cause less harm to this country than Clinton. And yes, he is crass, but I've not yet found any quotes by him where he insults groups of minorities or women (as opposed to Clinton's elitist critique of Trump supporters as being deplorable and irredeemable). He has insulted individual women, such as Rosie O'Donnell or Clinton herself, but that's not an attack on all women, or an attack on someone because they are a woman. Too many people hear things on Saturday Night Live and take them as the truth, like when people started believing that Sarah Palin said she could see Russia from her house, or in this case when they started believing that Trump called all Mexicans rapists.

    The reality is Trump has been a Democrat for most of his life, and I highly doubt that his policies will be all that friendly to those who believe in those values that I keep mentioning, but for many of us, I think there is a little more hope for this country than there was before.

    You and I will likely never agree on these issues, but my hope is that people will try to understand that the idea of letting people live their own lives without interference is not a racist, sexist, or hateful one. Don't decide that everyone who voted for Trump must be uneducated, uninformed, or evil, just because they have hope that maybe we might move back toward that core value of freedom. There are bad people on both sides who are doing awful things, and they should have to pay the consequences for that, but that is not the majority of people on either side.

    1. Oh, thanks for coming back! I hoped you would.

      I agree that minorities and women are just as smart as white men. I do not believe that they currently have the same opportunities as white men. This, to me, seems fairly clear by looking at any sort of economic data. The rates of home ownership, the value of homes, the rates of college matriculation and graduation vary substantially by race - this all leads me to believe that opportunity is not the same. Especially when you consider the segregation of schools and how those schools perform and the resources they get. I actually just reviewed a book today on this by Jeff Chang - We Gon' Be Alright. In general, when people say that underrepresented groups should not receive special treatment, that results in over-representation of whites (and Asians). That said, I agree that policies over the past decade or so have not done much to help them. I am mostly familiar with Chicago, and I would say the way Chicago treats lower income people (who are often minorities) is appalling. I think this is mainly because the city does not follow up on its promises, though. I'm not positive.

      As for quotes from Trump where he actually insults and women, I am little floored by that comment. I am not sure why attacks against individual women are not as bad as attacks on people as a group. Calling someone a fat pig is pretty despicable. And certainly, ACTUALLY sexually assaulting a woman and then bragging about it afterwards, as he did in the Access Hollywood video, is absolutely mortifying, and I'm sure you did actually see and hear those quotes.

      He also DID say the Mexican rapist thing. You can see a clip of it here. I chose the BBC so that it is not a liberal news site I direct you to. I am having trouble playing the audio, so hopefully it works for you:

      It is not that I think everyone who voted for Trump is racist, sexist, or hateful. It is that the people who voted for him are now giving him and the Republican party great latitude to do racist, sexist and hateful things as a consequence of him being elected. Maybe that's not why people voted for him, but that could very well happen. Which is why I think people should stay vigilant on the civil rights side. His choice of Bannon alone as his "chief strategist" is troubling. The way he wants his kids to have security clearance and run his business and pretend that is a "blind trust" is troubling. There is a lot that is troubling to everyone, and I just want everyone to hold his feet to the fire on those things.

      I agree that we are likely not going to agree on minimum wage laws, affirmative action, welfare, gun laws and things like that. And I don't think we NEED to. I think robust debate on issues like that, that have big consequences for a lot of people are REQUIRED to have the best possible and strongest government that takes into account a lot of different views and experiences. And that's I think where so much frustration with government comes from - people don't debate and compromise any more, and it's stupid as everyone else in the country has to do it to get their jobs done, and yet somehow, our legislators seem unwilling to do it, possibly because they are scared of being voted out of office.

  13. Anonymous11/15/2016

    We could go on debating forever, but I don't have the time, and I doubt you do either. However, I would like to mention that I was unable to get the audio in your link, so I found the quote by Trump about Mexicans, which is as follows:

    "When do we beat Mexico at the border? They’re laughing at us, at our stupidity. And now they are beating us economically. They are not our friend, believe me. But they’re killing us economically.

    The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems.

    Thank you. It’s true, and these are the best and the finest. When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."

    So he did not call all Mexicans rapists. The media excerpted the phrase: “they’re rapists,” as if it were about all unauthorized Mexican immigrants, or worse, about all Mexican immigrants, or even worse than that, about all Mexicans. But that’s not what he said. Rational minds should agree that it’s not what he meant. It was just a remark about some of the unauthorized immigrants crossing the border.

    Clinton's words could also be used against her. For example, on October 7, 2015, at a Democratic debate, she answered the question: “Which enemy are you most proud of?” Clinton replied: “In addition to the NRA, um, the health insurance companies, the drug companies, um, the Iranians.”

    If you do to her what the media did to Trump, then you should believe that Clinton is proud to be the enemy of millions of Iranian citizens, plus millions more living outside Iran, including mothers, children, and many others. But rational people know that’s not what she meant.

    So what we know from Trump's quote is that he believes the Mexican government is forcing their most unwanted people into the United States. This claim may be false if Mexico does not intentionally send criminals to the United States. Perhaps Trump believes that Mexico is doing what Cuba used to do with those deemed undesirable by Castro. If that's not what he meant, then Trump's statement still seems plausible if Trump meant that conditions generated in Mexico by its government lead some criminals to the United States.

    And with that, I'm out. And by the way, in case you think I am an uneducated white male holding a blue-collar job (as it seems Hochschild would assume), I am a woman who was raised in a single-parent household who has lived in the Midwest and on the East Coast, on a farm and in three major cities, who has traveled all over the world, and who holds a doctoral degree.

  14. I am so glad to see you back, Aarti!

    I seem to be running all over the internet recommending this blog today, but a blogger I really like posted an article about the two "moral modes" in America that I thought had some very interesting ideas on how anyone can look at the way our society marginalizes groups and not be outraged by it. It's basically about ingroups and outgroups, but it goes into some detail about it.

    Thank you for writing about these things, Aarti, and for your very considered responses here!

  15. I jumped over here from your review of Dispatches from Dystopia and I have to say that I am so glad I didn't read the book, based on your review of it. I kind of thought - and maybe heard it elsewhere - that it would have some of the problems that you mentioned. Disappointing, I'd like to see it done better.

    1. Read The Unwinding instead! It is loads better.


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